Ode to the bus

I am beginning to ride the bus and am learning where the busses go that I want to take, and when to get off after they take a strange turn I wasn’t expecting. I already know there are at least 3 busses that will take me from near my apartment to my office. I can remember 2 of the numbers for these busses. Which means I am still asking when the busses stop, “Do you cross Avenida Mexico?” If they say yes, I can get to work.

Getting home is easier because I get off the bus near a shopping mall. The busses that go by the mall have its name printed on the front of the bus.

There are definite similarities between riding the bus in Guadalajara and riding the bus in Quito, much more so than riding the bus in Berkeley. In my experience, the bus is much more relaxed in Latin America.

Maybe not relaxing, but relaxed. First, and in my mind most importantly, you can either wait at a designated bus stop, or you can hail the bus. Just like hailing a taxi. I remember this being a rude awakening for me after returning from Quito and trying to hail the busses in Boston. I love the fact that if I see my bus coming and I’m not quite at the bus stop (or better yet, nowhere near a bus stop), I can stick my arm out and maybe he’ll stop.

The flip side of this, of course, is that the other day I was at the bus stop and I stuck my arm out to get the bus to stop and the bus didn’t stop because the bus driver was looking at something BEHIND him (head turned all the way). He never saw me.

One of my pet peeves in Berkeley was that you never knew if the people at the bus stop wanted the bus you were on or not. There was no signifying feature or look to give the bus and no arm movement to indicate that yes, I do want to get on your bus. This meant that if there was even one person at the bus stop, the bus driver had to pull over and stop the bus, open the door, and then the person would say, no, thanks. What a waste of time.

Secondly, there’s music. Maybe it’s the bus driver’s own heavy metal mix as he careens around the glorietas (roundabouts). Sometimes the bus driver will let on a person who plays an instrument and they will play a few songs before asking for some change. Here, it seems that they always ask the bus driver if they can come on the bus. I have not yet seen the bus driver say no, but I’m paying attention incase it happens.

Yesterday, on my way to work, a guy came on the bus with his guitar and played protest songs and told us how badly the workingman is treated in Mexico. He wasn’t bad, but he didn’t stop singing while I was on the bus, so I couldn’t figure out how to give him a few pesos. On the way home, a guy came on the bus and played some of the worst recorder I have heard outside a fourth grade classroom (sorry Cali!).

In addition, I have a little game I am playing with the bus on my way home. Because I get off the bus at this shopping mall, the traffic there is terrible. It seems to always be terrible, no matter what time of day. Because of this, the busses are supposed to wait until after the mall before they let people on and off the bus. This all makes sense and is better for the traffic pattern. But, I want to get off the bus in the middle of the mall, not at the end. So, when I see the mall beginning, I press the buzzer to let the driver know I want to get off the bus. And, then I wait to see if he will let me off at one of the stoplights or when we are stopped because of the traffic. Most of the time they don’t let me off the bus, but sometimes I can get off the bus on my street and not have to backtrack a few blocks. Small victories!

All this entertainment for the price of about 40 cents! It all just makes the bus rides in Berkeley seem boring by comparison.

3 Responses to “Ode to the bus”

  1. Cali Says:

    Uh, yeah. Recorder is not meant to make actual music with. I’m not sure if it’s possible.

  2. aj burke Says:

    Are the bus drivers also dangerously aggressive? I hope so, or what kind of latino bus experience is it, even if the stops are random.

    The bus drivers in Chile were jerks and wouldn’t stop even if you were 10 feet from the bus stop, running toward it and waving at them and they KNEW you wanted to get on! I think they were laughing evilly as they drove past saying, ‘Nope! She wasn’t AT the bus stop!’

  3. deeb Says:

    I fear the bus drivers more when I’m in my car. I’m afraid they won’t stop when they are behind me.

    If the driver sees me, he has always stopped. In fact, in the little time I’ve been riding the bus, they’ve been very nice to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: